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If you’re into type, you probably have heard the new buzzword recently: variable fonts. Everybody is talking about, some people are doing it. So are we.
But the more we get involved in making variable fonts, the more questions come to our minds. What is actually a variable font? We mean, really is? And what does it really mean? The most obvious application of the variable font technique is the weight-axis. Putting all fonts from Light to Black into 1 single variable font is something everybody can imagine, and maybe therefore also the thing everybody does. But isn’t that the same as using the marquee tag –which everybody did– in the early days of the internet? Don’t we realize by now that the internet is something else? Isn’t the Light-to-Black slider the same as the blinking marquee tag for typography in 2018?
So before we accept that this is what variable fonts are about, we should wonder what other possibilities this new font format offers. This is the moment to ask fundamental questions. Maybe this font format is actually something completely different? Maybe you can put all existing fonts into a single variable font? Maybe you don’t need all those separate glyphs, because one glyph can vary into any other glyph? Maybe you can have a legibility slider, or one from Braille to Latin? And maybe the question is not how to make variable fonts, but how to make fonts variable? And shouldn’t the interface be part of a typeface instead of depending on what an application offers or supports in its interface? Variable fonts are vari-able-fonts, so very able fonts. But what are they really capable of? Maybe the variable font format is a beginning of a new era in digital typography, where the letter is finally freed from its historical limitations? And what does it mean when information becomes dynamic at the level of the written word?
Enough questions to launch our own playground for variable fonts, which will be as much in development as the variable fonts themselves: very-able-fonts.com